Habitat patch size, facultative monogamy and sex change in a coral-dwelling fish, Caracanthus unipinna

Wong, Marian Y.L., Munday, Philip L., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2005) Habitat patch size, facultative monogamy and sex change in a coral-dwelling fish, Caracanthus unipinna. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 74 (2). pp. 141-150.

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We investigated the inter-relationships between coral colony size, social group size, mating system, and patterns of sex allocation in the pygmy coral croucher, Caracanthus unipinna (Caracanthidae), an obligate coral-dwelling fish. Histological examination of the gonads from all individuals in social groups revealed that the predominant mating system was harem polygyny. However, both group size and mating system co-varied with coral colony size, with pair forming and monogamy occurring on small corals and group forming and harem polygyny on large corals. This species therefore displays mating system plasticity in response to varying habitat patch size. Within-group sexual size dimorphism and individual gonad structure indicate that C. unipinna is also likely to be a protogynous hermaphrodite. These social and reproductive features of C. unipinna contrast with some other coral-dwelling fishes, which display a lack of social and mating system plasticity in response to habitat patch size, and either bi-directional or protandrous sex change. Possible reasons for this dichotomy include differences in spawning mode, parental care and levels of intrasexual aggression.

Item ID: 6275
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: caracanthus; social structure; mating system, protogyny, habitat specialisation
ISSN: 1573-5133
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2010 02:15
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060308 Life Histories @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 19
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